Master’s Alumni Profile: Eric Baker G’20

Eric Baker G’20

Newhouse Master’s Program: Public Relations (Public Diplomacy dual degree program) 
Current position: Associate Director of Communications, The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, Washington, D.C. 

What set you on your career path?  

a man sits and talks
Eric Baker (Photo courtesy of Eric Baker)

When I was growing up, my intention was to be a foreign or war correspondent for a major international news station. However, while in an internship after earning my bachelor’s in journalism, I realized I wanted to be in front of the proverbial camera, creating that impact. I served two years in AmeriCorps before working on a gubernatorial campaign in Colorado and applying to Syracuse University for the joint Maxwell-Newhouse Public Diplomacy program.   

At Syracuse, I got to marry my passion for politics and communications. After a brief internship at a consulting firm, which I found not to be for me, a friend from the Maxwell School reached out and suggested I apply for a communications position at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), where I could draw from my previous experiences to share DFRLab’s global work. 

What skills did you acquire at Newhouse that you use in your work now?  

Newhouse taught, honed and reinforced so many phenomenal skills that are always in demand: writing, graphic and web design, public and media relations, etc. In a first-year public relations course, we had to build an entire media kit for a simulated event that brought together two organizations you felt would work well together. It was both a challenge and genuinely fun to create the brand, logo, press release, media advisory, infographic and more.  

As the associate director for communications on a global 50-person team, I use all these skills daily to build out campaigns for both our flagship events abroad and our daily case studies – drawing the attention of those that need to be aware of our research and working with journalists to platform our deep bench of exceptional researchers.  

“Above all, I think the Newhouse name instills confidence, confidence from both those around you and in oneself,” Baker says of his alma mater. (Photo courtesy of Eric Baker)

What does it mean to you to be a Newhouse alum?  

The Newhouse name holds a cultural currency that few individual schools, as opposed to universities, can say they have. Newhouse is where the ambitious go to be tested, put in the work and be forged into some of the best communicators in the country. From my small cohort alone, the work many of them have already completed has been nothing but impressive.  

Above all, I think the Newhouse name instills confidence, confidence from both those around you and in oneself.  That said, I have the distinct pleasure of being a Newhouse  and  Maxwell alum, learning from some of the best in the business and earning degrees from two first-class and instantaneously recognized schools.  

What advice would you offer someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree?  

Get creative. School is an opportunity to experiment, grow your skills, fail, pick yourself back up again and figure out what really excites you. If your degree is in public policy, but you’re interested in TV, find a show to work on. If you’re really into art, but there’s no publication writing about the local art scene, publish one. Even if the attention received is minimal, it looks great on a resume that you were honing your craft because you wanted to, not because it had a grade attached.  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I’d like to continue working for organizations that have strong social missions related to causes that inspire me: disinformation, extremism, climate, migration, education, etc. Regardless of where I am in 10 years, I suspect that I will continue working with global organizations that have strong human-rights based missions and tangible effects on peoples’ lives. In 30 years, depending on my beard and tweed collection, I could see myself teaching.